Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Farewell Vancouver



By Mark W. Danielson

Like many people, I spent the last two weeks glued to the Olympic television broadcasts. Every athlete competed to the best of their ability, and with few exceptions, they graciously accepted their results. For North America, this was a spectacular showing with Canada earning a record-setting 14 gold medals, and the United States setting a new record with 37 total medals. Even more impressive, the US earned medals where no one expected them to win. Sixty-two years had passed since Team USA’s four-man bobsled team won gold, and never before had we won so many medals in Nordic and Alpine events. But what impressed me most about this Olympics was the athletes’ sportsmanship. Through falls, disappointments, injuries, and personal challenges, all of these athletes shined. This is the image I’ll remember most.
Of course, the Olympics’ finale was the ultimate hockey match-up between Canada and the USA. Both teams played an amazing game, and Canada won in overtime. Sacre Bleu! How did this happen? It’s simple—their NHL players out-played our Canadian NHL players. Think about it—even Team Canada’s coach is with the NHL. So why the disappointment in Team USA’s faces after the game? Even while receiving their silver medals, their faces remained sour. Didn’t they realize how hard they worked to get into this game? Didn’t they realize they were representing their nation and that millions of people would be watching them? Even Apollo Ono remarked that these men should have stood tall and celebrated their medals with gracious smiles. Oh well, at least there were a few smiles during the closing ceremony.

Yes, the 2010 Olympics leaves us with many memories, and not all are related to competition. Canada did a superb job with their opening ceremony, and left everyone smiling in the closing. Our athletes looked sharp for the closing ceremony, but during their competitive events—not so much. They looked great in their silver jackets and knit caps while standing on the medal platforms, but who came up with these denim-looking pants and star-spangled tops? With the exception of our red Nordic team uniforms, too many of our outfits looked like pajamas. And whoever came up with baby blue-on- black for our speed skaters? And why were our bobsleds so boring? Okay, I’m complaining, but didn’t anyone notice the eagle on Russia’s sled? Now that looked cool. So, although we set a record for medals, fashion-wise, we didn’t even place. No doubt we can do better next time. (I’d be happy to provide suggestions to anyone who is interested.)

When you get down to the brass tacks, a country’s uniforms don’t really matter. The international athletes provided us with over two weeks of solid entertainment, and Vancouver and Canada sparkled throughout the event. Thanks for all the beautiful images and memories, and congratulations to every Olympian. You are truly the world’s greatest.

9 comments:

Bill Kirton said...

I go along with all that, Mark, even though the UK's haul was a single gold medal. The sooner we get to a situation where taking part is recognised as being the main goal of competition, the better. I guess this won't make sense to those who say competing is ONLY about winning. I remember a UK commentator during the last Olympics going crazy as one of our men's teams won a rowing gold. As the boat crossed the line, he was screaming 'X (the name of one of the oarsmen) doesn't do bronze, he doesn't do silver, he only does gold'. And that made his enthusiasm when we won 'lesser' medals in other races rather qualified.

But thanks Canada, for a great couple of weeks.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Bill, unfortunately politics sometimes overshadows athleticism. We see such displays in every country, but to even make it to the Olympics is a major accomplishment. There is no question they are all winners.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I thought the games were great, despite a few disgruntled losers and less than fashionable team outfits. The obvious work and determination displayed during the games were awe inspiring and I'm sure inspired a lot of young people to follow their examples.

Pat Browning said...

I was glued to the Olympics, too, but perhaps with different thoughts in mind. I've always loved the parade of countries in opening ceremonies. I watch the flags go by and think, I've been there, and memories begin. I've got a blog for Saturday about Holland (the Netherlands), a stout, brave little country. I always root for their ice skaters.
Pat Browning

Mark W. Danielson said...

Truly a bummer about the Dutch skater who's coach gave him a bum steer. In spite of this, you will never hear him or any other athlete say their Olympic experience was bad. That's the beauty of these games. It seems some politicians could learn from these athletes.

Pat Browning said...

You're forgetting the Russian ice skater who thought he could just phone it in, and nearly started a revolution back home by ending up with a silver medal. He was really insulting but the Americans just laughed it off. Made me realize what a tight-knit bunch Olympians are. Apparently they admire his skill, which was not on display in Vancouver, and make allowances for his snarky personality.

Beth Terrell said...

I enjoyed this year's Olympics a lot, despite the tragic beginning. There was a bittersweet quality to games for me this year.

Mark W. Danielson said...

I admit that there were some displays of poor sportsmanship from a Russian and Japanese ice skater and our US hockey team, but all-in-all, the athletes performed superbly in the face of tragedy, wounds, poor weather, and adversity. I fear the tone of the next winter Olympics will not be anything like this year's casual event, but regardless of the tone, 2014 will be a world class competition.

angel said...

When The popular comment layout is common, so it is easily recognized scanning to post a comment. If the comment section is in a different format, then I am going to spend more time trying to decipher what everything means.

get degree